The benefits of reading to children
Author :Jo Whitfield , for ‘Spot A Childcare’
There are so many reasons why it’s a good idea to incorporate reading to our children into their daily routine. From positive effects on academic achievement, vocabulary, and concentration, to boosts to imagination, good habits and simple quality time between parent and child, it really is something worth making a part of our children’s lives.
Reading to children helps them use their imagination
Unlike when they are watching a TV screen, a child who is listening to a story must create a visual image in their mind. They have the freedom to paint their own pictures, to create their own ideas of how a character might look and behave based only on what they are hearing, not seeing. Many children’s books will help spark this with illustrations, particularly for younger children who might need a little more help engaging with the story.
Reading to children helps develop their vocabulary
This one seems pretty obvious really. Very young children’s books will often consist mainly of pictures with very minimal words relating to them. This helps them learn new words and identify their meaning. Later on, when a child is listening to different words, and hearing these words constructed into sentences, this is going to help them with their own range of words and use of language. Some of the most popular books for young children contain a degree of repetition, aiding this learning, and children will often consolidate this by asking for the same book again and again.
Reading to children helps aid their concentration and attention span
Learning to sit quietly and listen for periods of time is a skill worth developing. Children must concentrate when listening to a story, much more so than many of their daily activities.
Reading to children helps develop their understanding of the world
Quite simply, reading is educational. The youngest children might learn for the first time what a horse looks like, for example. Later on, children will learn a great deal from listening to a story, but we don’t have to stop at story books. Let’s not forget books that present facts;
children’s encyclopaedias, books that explain how plants grow, why cats purr, where water comes from, how children in other countries live.
A story at bedtime can help your child sleep
Stories at bedtime are a timeless classic part of childhood for good reason. They help children settle down, switching off from any anxieties that might have arisen during the day, and focusing on the words being read to them. This is far more effective than TV at bedtime which can be over stimulating and has been shown to disturb sleep patterns due to the blue light it emits which can suppress the production of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone. This is true for adults as well as children.
Reading to your child sets a good example
When we start to read to our children from a very early age, and continue to do so throughout their childhood, we make books a normal part of their lives. We create a habit that sets our children up for lifelong learning and enjoyment.
It is no surprise that studies have shown a link between children who own a great deal of books, and those who achieve well academically.
But aside from all the reasons above, one of the best reasons I find for reading with my child is the valuable closeness and one to one time that it affords us every day. My child is now nearly 11, and although he now reads to himself, he still greatly values the time we spend each night cuddled up on his bed together while I read him a chapter of the book we’re working through together. It’s a very special time for both of us, and a routine I’m glad we adopted when he was a baby.